Are businesses prepared for an ageing population?

Is your business ready for an ageing population?

Are businesses prepared for an ageing population?

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has published a report, sponsored by AXA, entitled 'A silver opportunity? Rising longevity and its implications for business'. The report looks at “the risks and opportunities faced by businesses as they start to grapple with changing demographics, both in terms of their internal workforces and the changing nature of consumer demand”.

In researching this report, EIU conducted a global survey of 583 executives across Europe, the Asia Pacific region, North America and OECD countries in other regions, from a wide range of sectors.

Of the respondents, 62 per cent were aged between 35 and 54, 24 per cent were over 55 years of age and 14 per cent were under 34.

The report found a number of interesting discrepancies between the reality of global ageing, company expectations, and preparedness for these changes. Globally, the number of those aged 65 and over is growing at around twice the rate of the overall population, making it the fastest growing primary segment of the world’s population.

Although businesses were largely optimistic about longevity, with 71 per cent of executives seeing longevity as an opportunity rather than a risk, only one third of those surveyed from businesses not specialising in serving the aged felt that sales to this group would increase by at least 10 per cent in the next five years.

A growing number of companies are conducting research and development into the needs of older people – Intel, General Electric and Philips are three such firms. It appears that smaller businesses are, on the whole, more responsive than their larger peers in terms of creating new products and services for this niche market. Overall, however, many still consider longevity an issue for the distant future, rather than an immediate concern, despite data showing otherwise.

Internally, one third of firms surveyed expected to have a “significantly higher proportion” of older workers in the next five years, but only 14 per cent said that their firm had taken longevity into account in any way.

While many businesses are optimistic about the opportunities presented by an ageing global population, few have taken steps to make the most of this opportunity. It seems as though the companies which realise that this is an issue for today, not next year, will be the ones who become the forerunners with this demographic, both in terms of marketing to over 65s and in successfully employing an older demographic.

You can download the full report at the Economist Intelligence Unit website.  


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